A map showing Connlaoth's duchies.
Connlaoth is a flat, smooth land. Surrounded by mountains on both sides, it rests in a huge valley with little in the way of terrain to stop the wind coming off the sea. Rich and fertile, Connlaoth is blessed with lots of crops and most of its land is devoted to farming. Low, sturdy fortresses dot the land, surrounded by low, sturdy houses.
Massive wind storms, tornadoes and monsoons are common throughout the land, as Connlaoth's geography creates a sort of natural wind tunnel thanks to the flat land and lack of mountains or hills to break the storms rolling in off the ocean.
Magic-use is forbidden in Connlaoth and is a crime punishable by death. A place of tradition, warfare and industry, Connlaoth tries to protect the land from the dark taint of magic.
1. Kingdom Colors
Green and black.
2. Kingdom Flag
White and green counter-changed boar.
4. Ethnic groups
90% Connlaothian, 10% other
Connlaoth - Con-LAY-awth, Con-neh-LAY-awth
Connlaothian tracker: large, powerfully built dogs with thick coats that can stand as tall as a man on their hind feet. They are able to sense magic being performed, though they can't sense a mage unless they are actively using magic.
Connlaothians value creation, innovation, and self-discipline. They are a resilient people with a strong faith and an open-minded love of fresh new ideas.
Their society is divided amongst craftsmen, farmers, and military. While the average man is most likely to be a farmer, all men are expected to serve in the military, and they spend several months of the year in active military service, honing their skills and guarding their borders. Political relations with the other nations have been rather tense, historically and in the present, and so they take no chances and focus on preparation should any nation decide to move against them, because they would need to be that much more skilled than the enemy in case of a strike. After all, they do not use magic, and thus do not possess the mageknights Serendipity does, nor dragonsriders like Adela.
Unlike most areas of the world, there are no small villages around Connlaoth that don't have a protective wall to protect against the strong seasonal winds. Many of the farmers move into the fortresses that cover the area during the storm season, leaving their homes empty. The time spent during those months is often very busy. Males practice fighting and soldering as best they can, while woman often work on projects or their trade. Nine months later is often filled with new births as well.
A practical people, the average Connlaothian puts little stock in the philosophy of things. Reading and writing is taught to nobles and few else, mostly to be able to exchange letters and read books on tactics. However, because they refuse to allow magic in their borders, they have developed very advanced technology in what they consider the practical areas.
The things that people work with every day, such as farming, blacksmiths, brewing, armoring, sewing, etc have made impressive advancements and are far and away ahead of the rest of the continent.
Illiteracy isn't as prevalent in the large cities, where the thinkers and the artists gather. And while they have many traditions, the people on Connlaoth are quite open to new ideas and advancements. They are eager to embrace new ideas and explore different and better ways of doing things on their own, without having to rely on magical shortcuts. Connlaothians reject the easy life magic brings and instead they use their own power, their own hands and minds, to live and thrive.
2. Views On Magic
Despite the laws against magic, mages do exist in Connlaoth. It is important to note that Connlaothians draw a distinction between mages and magic-users. To them, a mage is someone who possesses magic, someone who has the potential to use magic. Meanwhile, a magic-user is just that: someone who actively uses their power. In other words, not all mages are magic-users, but all magic-users are mages.
However, it's really only the magic-using mages that Connlaoth is concerned with. Those are the ones that are executed, for disobeying their anti-magic laws.
Mages and magical creatures who do not use magic can live normal (if somewhat nervous) lives in Connlaoth, so long as they do not use their power. All known mages are easily identifiable, as they are all required to sew the symbol of the church onto the left breast of their clothing. Two mages are also not allowed to marry, though a mage may marry a non-mage. More picky churches may refuse to marry a mage at all, but this varies from place to place.
Mages are not allowed to have children, and if a child is born it is taken away by the church. If the child manifests magic, it is kept by the church and raised there, though if the child doesn't manifest any magic, it is returned to the parents.
While mages are often treated with some discomfort and wariness, they are largely viewed as martyrs as they have seen the light and are fighting against the taint inside them on a very personal level. While people may still be uncomfortable around them, they are not shunned and many become respected in their communities for their piety, sacrifice, and strength in resisting temptation.
In short, Connlaoth has a very "hate the sin, love the sinner" view on magic. People cannot help being born how they are, but they can control whether or not they use magic. The exception is small children too young to understand or control their ability; they are not executed for using magic, and are given another chance.
Many repentant mages are used as examples to other mages struggling with the same affliction, a way of saying, "If they can do it, so can you." Connlaothians are not a cruel or merciless people, for forgiveness, redemption, and faith in humankind is a major tenant of their philosophy as a people and a nation.
Connlaothians do not hunt magic-users out of hate, but out of fear of what they can do with their power--and of what they have done in the past, for Connlaothians have long memories and as a people they remember the horrors of their past. Magic-users are people that have the ability to control the elements and bend reality to their will. There is also no real rhyme or reason as to who is selected to be given this great power; the evil and selfish and cruel are just as likely to be given these powers as someone who is good and kind. Magic-users can wipe out friends and family and loved ones with a snap of their fingers and that is a frightening thing.
They also believe that magic is a drain on the world, which it is eating away at nature's energy, because all that magical power has to come from somewhere. You can't get something from nothing, after all.
It is a force of temptation, leading people astray and making them soft and lazy--and all that has a cost. Many believe that it is magic which causes the violent weather in their nation, and that it is magic that is responsible for other natural disasters.
It's not all about fear, though. Some of it is also about pride. Magic use is, simply put, lazy. Connlaothians don't feel like they need to rely on magic and they take pride in their ability to survive without it. They built their own cities and nation with their own hands, the sweat off their back. They don't need magic to do it for them; humans are good enough on their own. Connlaothians believes that all those that use magic for everything are growing soft, unable to live without it. Connlaothians have no such crutch.
A few of the wealthy and powerful, corrupt and lazy have been known to seek out magic-users to use their talents for themselves, though that is risky. The entire nation would turn against them if it ever came to light, but some think it's worth the risk--or just love the illicit thrill of it.
3. Free Speech
Free speech is an important factor in Connlaothian society. The one God Ansgar believed that "Every man has a voice to be heard" and it's a tenant that is strictly followed to this day. Because he spoke up against the evils of magic, he was able to form Connlaoth and help protect its people. They believe that people have the right to voice their beliefs and opinions on things. They won't always be listened to and those too heretical are often shunned as mad men, but they are allowed to speak freely.
Some views, such as things that go against the church's teachings or suggest allowing magic to reign free are silenced, though only with fines and occasional jail time.
4. International Relations
Despite their dislike of magic using nations, practicality has forced Connlaoth to come to a tense truce with them. Because they can only grow and produce so much, they rely on trade with other nations for items such as olives, olive oil, spices, grapes, figs, fruit that require warmer climates such as oranges and other such items.
Adela and Connlaoth have a long history is hating each other, as Adelans views dragons as sacred Connlaoth is responsible for killing magic-using dragons.
Connlaothian men like to greet each other by grasping wrists and if they are close to the other person, will pull them into a hug and clap them on the back. Woman greet each other and men by touching cheeks with them.
Proud and disciplined, Connlaothians believe in controlling their baser desires. They have resisted the urge to fall back on magic to make their lives easier and it makes them feel superior to their magic using neighbors.
They have a strong love of order and believe in showing respect for those above you in station, including the elderly. Craftsmen are well respected in their culture, as Connlaothians have a deep appreciation for people who can create new and amazing things with their own hands and the materials around them. Because they do not rely on magic for shortcuts, they are always looking for new and innovative ways to do things in order to improve the lives of their people. They're a very creative and inventive people, and new technological advancements (from weaponry to new sewing technology to new ways of paving roads that hold up better under the elements) are always being made.
Connlaoth is by far human-dominated. Magic-use is not allowed, including natural magic. However, they have no problem with non-magic using non-humans. Creatures with natural magic that have seen the light and chose to give up the magic that taints them are seen as wonderful. They are often still treated with some amount of discomfort, but as long as they don't use magic, they are allowed to live within Connlaoth.
The natives of Connlaoth are a short, stocky race of people. They tend to average around 5'7" to 5'9" for males and 5'2" to 5'4" for the females. Men tend to have broad shoulders, arms and chests and woman tend to be more voluptuous, with thicker curves and strong builds.
The coloring for native Connlaothians is very pale. Their skin in naturally a pale pinkish shade, though many of the populace spends enough time outside that in the summer months to develop a golden tan. Hair colors are mostly reds and light blonds, with a number of colors in between. Eyes are also light-colored, mostly blues, greens and sometimes grays. Darker colors are rare and mostly come from having a slave somewhere in the family history.
A patriarchal society, Connlaothians have rather set gender roles. Men are expected to be soldiers and farmers for the most part while woman tend the home and do most of the trade/crafting, such as blacksmithing, brewing, coopering, weapon smithing, pottery-making, etc. In Connlaoth, these are not considered to be traditionally male jobs; they are traditionally female jobs, considered woman's work.
Men are expected to help plant and harvest the fields, but most farms are tended to by women and children while the men are off doing mans' work soldiering. Woman are expected to support their husbands, often making most of the money for the family while the men are keeping them safe.
Women typically do not own property unless widowed and are expected to marry young, though it is not unheard of for some of the more talented craftswoman to support themselves. Women aren't allowed to hold any positions of power, though an exception is the Mordecai. Women born with that talent are allowed to join the Mordecai ranks. However, women are still expected to learn to fight enough to help defend the fortress if they are laid siege to. Women are often the last line of defense and have been know to successfully drive away invaders when they reach the inner walls.
Connlaoth is the land of double standards.
Sex between two men is not considered that odd and is rather expected among soldiers, who often bond with each other over intense, stressful situations with no women about. Such relationships are regarded as very masculine--and also understandable. Thus, gay, bisexual, and pansexual men can find a lot more acceptance and freedom in the military than they can in other areas of society.
However, there is an expectation that these relationships will end once the men exit the military and return to their lives. They are expected to marry and raise a family, and these military relationships are often downplayed and erased. While many of these relationships are simply sexual or experimental, many do turn romantic, and it is the romantic aspect that is considered "unnatural". After all, there is a societal expectation that they only partook in such activities out of necessity (and thus, who could blame them?), and not out of genuine attraction and affection.
Women have an easier time hiding their romantic relationships with other women, because Connlaothians simply don't believe such a thing exists--or is even possible. Two women can live together, hold hands with each other, even kiss each other, and most people will assume they're just close friends. Those that are outed as being romantically involved with, and attracted to, women are generally patronized and not taken seriously. They're still expected to marry a man, and their attraction is simply regarded as a "phase".
Transgender people are completely erased in Connlaothian society. They are viewed as little more than cross-dressers, and cross-dressing is considered a sin punishable by death. Adults often face violence and more if outed, and children who show such "signs", whether perceived or real (because a girl can like playing boy games and still be a girl!), may be taken to the church to be "corrected", something their worried parents may view as life-saving.
Connlaothians are rather prudish about sex, and it's not a topic to be thrown around in polite society. Woman are expected to be virginal on their wedding nights and adultery is punishable by a heavy fine and penance. Men have no such expectations.
Connlaothians are encouraged to have children, for they are blessings. Twins, on the other hand, are considered to be bad luck and a sign of witchery, perhaps the result of a mage's curse--a view supported by the fact that childbirth is very dangerous for both mother and infant. Twins are not regarded as having a whole soul, but as being two halves of one soul. Some parents let one child die (to allow the other child to gain a whole soul) and that single child may be raised without ever knowing they had a sibling. Other parents raise both. Still others give the children to the church to raise. In cases where both twins survive, they are almost always stigmatized.
Curves are very in for females and well built powerful builds for men. Connlaothians like to see meat on their partners' bodies, with curves on woman, broad shoulders and thick arms and chests on the men. Dark coloring is considered very attractive and exotic among the upper-class, as it's rare to see it in the natives.
Beards, and facial hair in general, is popular on men.
Due to the strong winds that move through the nation, most lower class Connlaothians do not wear dresses, as they are simply impractical. Therefore, is very common to see peasant women wearing breeches instead of skirts and dresses, since they spend a lot of time outdoors in the windy climate. Despite both sexes wearing pants, men and women's styles are still quite different and cross-dressing is seen as perverted and illegal. When outside or working, most people use long leather strips to wrap their sleeves down, so the wind doesn't play havoc with them.
Noblewomen also wear pants, though they may be lavishly decorated and embroidered. They also wear dresses, as they don't spend the same amount of time outdoors as a commoner does and thus don't need to worry about their practicality.
Connlaothians are fond of form-fitting garments with high collars, long sleeves, and decorative crisscross patterns of leather strips. They have somewhat patch-worked seams, meaning they don't follow traditional seam-lines and add in extra seams for aesthetics. The fall and winter seasons have most people wearing fur-lined clothes, often with the seams about an inch apart to let the fur underneath show. The fur used is often a status symbol; poorer people often use cat and dog fur while nicer furs are used by those that can afford it.
Men's pants have an extra split in the crotch, allowing for an extra piece to accommodate their extra parts. Their pants also incorporate more 'patch-working'. They are most often found with shirts under thick vests, with loose sleeves tucked into leather bracers. Jackets (generally fitted leather coats) are worn over the top in cooler weather.
Women's pants are made of longer, sleeker, and fewer 'patchwork' pieces. They wear an under-bust, which helps give them the curvy form that is prized in Connlaoth, with a loose shirt underneath. Their sleeves are worn tight until the elbows, where they often have a slit in the fabric that shows off their forearms. Women's jackets are half jackets that are made of a variety of fabrics, fur being the most sought after material, that attach to the under-bust.
The main staples of Connlaoth are grains. The large, flat fields are perfect for growing a variety of grains. Bread and gruel are the most common of the foods eaten, often supplemented with vegetables or meat for those that can afford it. They have mostly simple, hearty foods and avoid much of the spices many other nations are fond of.
When it comes to meat, the lower class is restricted to domestic meats: beef, chicken and other domestic fowl, lamb, pork and, depending on where they live, fish. The upper class, however, also has access to wild game such as rabbit, deer, boar, and pheasant. It is considered a crime for a peasant to poach wild game and, depending on the duke of the land, the peasant could be faced with fines or even death.
Of course, this is only if they get caught. Connlaothian soldiers are notorious for poaching wild game.
There are a huge number of local festivals and events that happen every year, such as patron saint's birthdays or celebrations of a miracle that occurred or anything that gives them a reason to celebrate.
1. Cider Tasting
In the duchy of [BLANK], there is a small village famed for its apple orchards. Every fall, there is a cider tasting competition that has people from many nearby areas traveling to attend. Several families have been entering for generations and the rivalry is fierce. The lord of the area is one of the traditional judges of the contest
2. Harvest Festivals
There are all manner of celebrations for the bringing in of the harvest and the return of the men from fighting. Most have a large feast with drinking and dancing, though most areas have their own special variation. Many parts of Connlaoth give gift to family and sweethearts, generally in the form of sweets or small handmade trinkets.
3. All Souls Night
This is a holiday celebrated across Connlaoth, on the longest night of the year. No work is to be done on this day and people spend all day in church, praying and fasting. That is to represent the trials solders go through out on the field, starving and praying.
When the sun sets, candles are lit in a path from the church to the graveyard. In the graveyard, people celebrate the lost lives, eating and drinking and celebrating with the fallen soldiers of the past in spirit.
4. Angsar's Day
Once a week is Angsar's day, a holy day that is expected to be spent attending a mass and worshiping Ansgar. Most people use it as a day of rest, as there is to be no work done on this day and everyone is expected to attend at least one mass, though some very devout may attend more.
5. Day of Respite
The first morning is a somber day of fasting and penance. Talking is discouraged and most people spend the day in silence. There is no playing or work done and it's common to spend most of their time in church. This is to morn the passing of Ansgar from this world.
At midnight, there is a bell rung, or in the smaller towns some other loud noise made, that signifies Ansgar's leaving the earth.
The next morning it is typical to have dancing and celebrating the defeat of magic. Many people will wear demonic masks and long robes and get chased around by children, symbolizing the defeat of the magical forces by Ansgar.
The Capital of Connlaoth, this is where the Grand Duke's palace is. Surrounded by a thick wall, it is a heavily fortified city. However, it is home to some of the most beautiful architecture in Connlaoth. Several huge churches can be found in the city, housing some of the most important holy artifacts. It also holds the main garrison for the Mordecai as well as where they train new recruits.
2. Matron's Hallow
The area where the Matron and Lower matron meet is known as Matron's Hallow. There are a number of cities here and lacks the low, squat fortresses that are so common everywhere else in Connlaoth. The cities in Matron's Hallow all belong to the Grand Duke and as such, other Dukes aren't allowed to attack them. To do so would be an act of treason against the Grand Duke. A large lake, Crystalsong Lake, is the only lake in the country is at the meeting point of the rivers. It is a meeting place for some of the greatest artists and minds in Connlaoth.
A few miles from the Capital, there is one of the larger cities in the country, named Uthlyn and is a center of art and learning in Connlaoth. Many Dukes, including the Grand Duke and other wealthy nobles often visit the city, enjoying the many festivities and arts available there. It is not uncommon for a number of nobles to winter there. The whorehouses are legendary throughout the land and almost every young boy and soldier dream of visiting.
The lone college in Connlaoth also resides there, covering a number of subjects from medicine to law to alchemy and more. Noble children that are embarrassments or unfit for combat are often sent off to the collage to learn. The large tower that rests in the center of the city is the tallest building in the entire country. It is used by the collage there for classes and labs and storage.
Slavery is legal and common in Connlaoth. Most slaves are imported from other nations, or are debtors and criminals. Slaves are mostly treated well and are allowed to earn their freedom. They have no control over their lives, but most slaves live similar lives to servants.
They are most commonly used in households, doing domestic chores. It is also common to get well-educated slaves to be tutors for young noble children. Female slaves are much more common than males slaves, as male slaves are far less in demand, due to most slaves being used as house slaves. Most people that would be using a slave for manual labor can't afford to keep one.
Marriage between slaves and freemen is not uncommon and holds no stigma unless it is amongst the nobility. While excessive cruelty is not uncommon, most people who practice it are looked down on as barbaric, uncouth and rather trashy. While slaves can expect a beating for disobedience and are often used in their master's bedchambers, few are badly abused and many live pleasant lives.
Despite their aversion to magic, most Connlaothians are religious. They draw a distinction between magic and miracles, and divine miracles are not believed to be magical or against nature; they are the work of God.
It must be noted that while the following is a general run-down of their faith, there are many different denominations within the religion, and different duchies and individuals may follow different versions of the religion. And while most people are religious, born raised in their nation's faith from childhood, that is not to say that atheism, agnosticism, and other religions don't exist. Cities, being cultural hubs, tend to be more secular (with the busy citizens paying lip-service more than anything) than the more religious country, though the church still has a strong influence in the nation as a whole.
There is only one god in their religion, Ansgar, a male warrior deity who is addressed both by name and simply as "God". However, there are a large number of saints that are worshiped heavily, for they are viewed as a more human and less intimidating figure to pray to than Ansgar. Different areas have different patron saints that they revere and saints all have sway over something, such as lost children or battlefield injuries. Many churches that worship a particular saint have mementos of that saint, such as a skull or robe that belonged to the saint.
Connlaothians are all taught that magic goes against nature and against Ansgar. Magic is a tainted force, sent to tempt and corrupt the weak. It is the use of magic that causes the violent and dangerous weather that plagues Connlaoth. It is Ansgar's will that all magic be purged from the land. Once the land and its people have been freed of the taint of magic, it is believed that Ansgar will return and there will be paradise on Earth.
They believe in an afterlife and that those who led good lives get to live in paradise. Those that have sinned are sent to a fiery hell, where they are burned by fire until they have been cleansed of their sins and repented. But while they do believe in hell, redemption and forgiveness is a large tenant of their faith, and their hell is not a permanent torture but a purifying force. Once they have been cleansed, they are reborn on earth to try again to live a good life and reach paradise.
In Connlaothian mythology, Ansgar was a great and holy warrior that defeated the forces of magic that had destroyed the Earth, though he died in the process. He favors soldiers, his teachings focusing on purging magic from the world and the importance of harmony with the natural forces of Earth.
The church has a structure of ranks, with monks and priests giving mass in towns and running most of the smaller churches. The higher ranking members of the church are typically found in the larger cities and in the grander churches. All churches have some religious relic of some kind in them, anything from a skull or finger bone or other piece of a saint to something that was used by the saint.
Mass occurs everyday, though most people only attend on Ansgar's Day. The priest will give a sermon, incense is lit, and then people come forward to place a small, hard baked loaf of soldiers' bread at the base on the reliquary.
Priests will also hear confession and give out the appropriate penance for the sin, fasting and self flagellation are common penance. The church believes strongly in redemption, salvation, and the power of choice. They want to help guide people onto the correct path. After all, life is all about choices, and anyone can choose to go to paradise if they make the right decisions. Those that make poor decisions must face the consequences in the afterlife--just like in life, if you commit a crime you are punished.
The church does not teach that those who possess magic are evil; instead, it teaches that they are merely being tested. Those that succumb and use magic have turned their back on Ansgar and are to be destroyed. Those that have been convicted of great crimes, such as murder or magic-use, are still given the chance to repent and save their soul before they are executed. The church does its best to help those with magical powers resist using them, often providing them places to live and helping them learn to live with the constant urge to use magic.
Because Connlaothian religion makes a distinction between magic and miracles, some magic-users are able to slip through the cracks, posing as faith healers and prophets. The real test for them is when a Mordecai is sent to investigate the phenomena.
1. Church Ranks
- The Patriarch is the head of the Church as a collective whole.
- Cardinals advise the Patriarch, and when the Patriarch dies, the Cardinals elect the next Patriarch.
- Bishops are ordained ministers who are responsible for teaching the faith and running the church.
- Priests have the authority to administer religious rites, and offer advice to those who seek help with spiritual matters. They are responsible for holding mass and hearing confession, as well as doling out penance.
- Deacons assist the priests and many are priests-in-training, in the process of completing the last year or so of their ordination. Deacons can run Mass in the absence of a priest.
- Brothers and Sisters are the servants of the church, that help out in the community and the church. Many are mages, as the church is a safe haven for them and can assist them in resisting temptation. This is the only rank that women and mages can join.
Mages who commit the crime of using magic may also come to the church, repent, and be absolved of their crime--but only if they agree to devote their life to the church and serve.
Churches also offer food and shelter to travelers, but only if they agree to work during their stay.
2. View on Other Religions
While Connlaoth's national religion is monotheistic, worshiping only one god, they do not believe he is the only god out there. They fully acknowledge the gods of other religions, and they are fine with other religions and accepting of their citizens practicing other faiths and following other gods so long as they do not delve into magic-based rituals and practices. They are even open to people blending religions, practicing both their original faith and Connlaothian religion and worshiping both their own gods and Ansgar. Connlaothian religion is quite flexible.
While they do not endorse other religions, and while they try and spread the word of Ansgar, people who follow other faiths are free to practice within their borders.
While Connlaothians are tolerant of other religions, they do still genuinely believe that theirs is the best one and even practice evangelism. Some especially pious members of the church even journey to the neighboring nations in order to try and share the word of Ansgar outside their borders. They do not believe in forcing their religion onto others, though they do enjoy spreading the word of Ansgar and converting others through discussion, sharing, and convincing.
While Connloath has very advanced technology, they are still limited to medieval levels though they have produced rather advanced crossbows.
Another large advancement that had been made is the production of gunpowder and the invention of very basic firearms. While they have possessed gunpowder for quite a while now, firearms have been slowly growing in complexity. Currently, they use wheellock pistols and wheellock rifles (though the older matchlock firearms are still around, if being phased out), though these weapons can only fire a single ball at a time. To use the gun, the user must load the gun through the muzzle with a ball and a powder charge, turn a mechanism on the side of the gun until it clicks, and prime the pan with gunpowder. They are still rather slow, clunky weapons, but some people can learn to become quite fast with them. Currently, these weapons are not common and are really only used by the military.
Cannons are another exciting discovery, having been invented by bell-makers.
Connlaothians also possess advanced sewing technology (having discovered the complicated inseam; their breeches are a popular trade item), excellent roads, and have even developed a crude sort of flushing toilet, though it is only available in pubic bathrooms. These consist of different stalls, for privacy's sake, each with a hole in the ground. A channel flows beneath, 'flushing' the excrement away.
The land is split up into Duchies, with each Duke paying homage to an elected Grand Duke, who lives in the capital city, Reajh. There is a lot of rivalry and in fighting between the Dukes, all seeking to increase their territory and power within Connlaoth. Most soldiers are loyal to their Duke rather than the Grand Duke. While the Dukes in theory give allegiance to the Grand Duke, there is much diplomatic maneuvering that happens within the nobles.
The Grand Duke rules similarly to a King, though that is mostly in name. The Dukes handle affairs in their own provinces for the most part, leaving the Grand Duke mostly a figurehead outside his own province. He is not without any sway however. He keeps the fights between the Dukes from getting out of hand and his good favor is sought after by most Dukes. If and when Connlaoth goes to war against an outside force, the armies are led and controlled by the Grand Duke. He also is the head of the Mordecai, the most powerful of Connlaoth's legions.
All men living on nobles' land are expected to be a part of that nobleman's army. They spend most of the winter months practicing drills and fighting. It is a sign of honor to be a warrior and good fighters can often earn recognition and fame in the surrounding area. The best fighters are often thought to be touched by Ansgar. It is common for fresh recruits, generally boys between 16 and 18 to pair up with an older mentor that shows them the ropes of fighting and combat.
Enlistment of women in the military is illegal, though this does not stop some women from cross-dressing to join. The offense can be punishable by death if the woman is exposed. Mordecai, however, are the exception.
Dissertion is punishable by death.
1.) The Mordecai
The elite of Connlaoth's troops, the Mordecai operate independently of any duchy and take orders only from the Grand Duke. They are the force that polices the nobles and aggressively hunts down any magic-users in the nation. In order to become a Mordecai, one must possess the special ability to negate magic.
Mordecaism is a psionic ability that creates a field around the Mordecai in which magic cannot be used. The ability is a passive one; the Mordecai has no means of turning this field on or off. While the range of this field varies from Mordecai to Mordecai and there is a lot of variety among them, a range of half a mile is average. Mordecai are often organized into squadrons based on their range, as some missions require longer or shorter ranges than others.
Mordecai will have no other magical or psionic abilities; it is a power that occurs alone. The Mordecai ability does not work on inanimate objects. Enchanted objects are unaffected, and while magic cannot be cast inside the range, magic cast outside it is not dispelled upon entry. Similarly, who it works on depends on the source of their magic. Creatures whose ability is racial and/or intrinsic to their very nature and existence are unaffected. However, creatures whose abilities are not simply a part of their very nature are affected. (Side note: it is, essentially, up to the individual player to decide if their character is affected.)
While Mordecaism is a psionic ability, Connlaothians are not aware of that; they simply view it as a blessing from Ansgar.
Because of the rarity of the ability, gender is not an issue. Men and woman alike are able to become Mordecai and move through the ranks, though female Mordecai are often regarded less as women and more as "one of the guys."
Likewise, because of the rarity of this ability, any known Mordecai is required to serve and are drafted upon discovery. Dissertion is punishable by beheading.
The Mordecai are well known for their heavy, expensive armor and the pure white tabards they wear over them, with their symbol of a silver lily embroidered across the chests. All Mordecai are trained to use melee weapons, most commonly swords or spears.
Their main purpose is to eradicate magic in all its forms. They move through Connlaoth in small groups, hunting down magic-users (or those suspected of using magic). Some are killed on the spot in a public execution; others are questioned or brought back to the Mordecai headquarters (called the Citadel) in Reajh. How harsh the questioning is or how paranoid they are about magic-use varies from Mordecai to Mordecai. Some will be more forgiving, others will not. It is a frightening thing to be questioned by the Mordecai, because many will not risk a suspected magic-user being allowed to run free and cause harm.
Unknown to all but the Grand Duke and the highest ranking Mordecai, the Mordecai perform experiments on many of the captured magic-users, trying to understand how they work. They are currently trying to find ways to drive magic from the human without killing them. So far they have been very unsuccessful. Saving people from magic is their highest priority and very few Mordecai take pleasure in the pain they inflict on their subjects. The hope is that the harm they do now will be able to save mages later on.
The Mordecai are a very religious organization, using the example of Ansgar, the first Mordecai, to lead them in their fight against magic. They are not taught to hate mages, in fact, most mages are viewed with pity: helpless pawns that have been tainted by an evil force. However because they are fighting against people who can create fire with a snap of their fingers or cause the flesh to melt from their bones with a word, they can not afford to be gentle. Their harsh treatment of magic users is not done out of cruelty or hatred, but survival.
Adharaism is a rare sub-ability of Mordecaism that occurs only in women. Like Mordecaism, it is an involuntary psychic ability, but unlike Mordecaism, Adharaism creates an anti-magic, anti-psionic field around the Adhara (or person with the ability). While the range is far smaller with a circumference of ten to twenty feet, it is also far more powerful.
This field negates any and all magical and psionic abilities. Magic cast from outside the field is canceled out upon touching it, and enchanted objects cease to work. In other words, an enchanted, flaming sword just becomes a sword. All creatures with magic or psionics are affected, but creatures that need magic to survive will not die; they may feel ill at worst, but they simply won't be able to use their magic.
The affects only last within the Adhara's sphere of influence. Once an enchanted object is removed from that sphere, it will work again.
3. Knights of the White Lily
The first Adhara was a fourteen-year-old virgin of the same name, the privileged daughter of a duke. Legend has it that a great beast attacked her duchy and, in a noble sacrifice, Adhara donned her father's armor, took up her father's sword, and went out alone against this beast. For three days and three nights they fought, and while her life was lost in the battle, she was able to slay this creature and save her duchy. She has since been exalted into sainthood.
She lives on not only as a saint, but even has an order within the Mordecai dedicated to her memory, the Knights of the White Lily. These are Mordecai with the rare ability of Adharaism, and as such, it is an order made up of only women.
These Knights are considered to be holy embodiments of purity and chastity, and they even believe that one must retain their virginity in order to keep their ability strong. While it's true that many of these Knights do take pains to live up to this, the reality is that they are just as human as anyone else. Many have affairs with the other women of their order and claim it "doesn't count", because they didn't have sex with a man and thus retained their virginal status.
Like other Mordecai, they are very privileged and some do take advantage of their exalted status. Also like other Mordecai, they are required to serve and are drafted upon discovery.
Besides the basic laws most nations have such as no murder, no stealing, no adultery, which the penalty for varies from duchy to duchy, Connlaoth has a few unique laws.
Most minor law breaking (such as getting pregnant out of wedlock or getting in a fight) is punished by local law enforcement. In order to repent the sin, many religious citizens will go to the church for confession, and be given penance in the form of prayer, fasting, flagellation, and/or fines paid to the church.
Major law breaking results in harsher punishments, such as hanging, branding, or losing a limb. Stealing, for example, is punishable by hanging or getting a hand cut off, depending on how lenient local law enforcement is feeling. One can be beheaded on the spot for evading arrest. Murder is always punishable by death.
The most major law is the Anti-Magic Law. The practice of magic is forbidden within the boundaries of Connlaoth. It is punishable by death and it's not unheard of for panicked villagers to kill a proven magic-user before the Mordecai or lord of the area can arrive. This is frowned on and can result in punishment of the villagers, such as fasting or fines. Sheltering or helping a magic user is also heavily punished, often by imprisonment or in some cases death.
The first time a mage child accidentally casts magic, they are taken into the church where they are cleansed and spend time with the priests there. Once they understand what has happened to them and what it means for them, they are sent back to their parents, a known mage. As long as they never cast magic again, they are allowed to live.
A mage that doesn't practice magic is pitied and often times treated with wariness, but they are not against the law.
Slavery is legal and common, though generally only the well-off can afford slaves. Not just anyone is allowed to be enslaved and those found guilty of enslaving citizens are punished for it.
Some Duchies will have their own laws that extend to their own lands, though those are few and mostly related to taxation.
Genders have strict divides and one gender impersonating another gender is forbidden. Woman attempting to pass as men can be severely punished and in some of the more rural areas can get the woman executed. Men in women's clothing are punished, though almost never executed.
Connlaothians share a common ancestor with Serenians; they both came from the same people and the same original civilization, a great nation long ago, located below the Kilanthro mountains to the far West, that harnessed the power of magic--and ultimately ended up destroying itself. The mages of that nation tampered with forces they shouldn't have, and in doing so unleashed a chaotic magic unto itself. In the end, the surviving mages were able to contain that taint, but the magic left a scar on the land and it is said that, even to this day, that old, dangerous magic still lingers about the ruins of that nation.
It was after this great tragedy that the people of that ruined nation split. Some were optimistic, convinced it was only that magic which was bad and that it had all just been a horrible mistake, but that it was not the fault of magic as a whole. Others disagreed, horrified and saddened by what had happened and convinced that magic was a dangerous, destructive force, a ticking time bomb. Without a home, with their friends and loved ones massacred, they swore never to touch it again.
Ultimately, the two groups split; those that accepted magic traveled southeast through the Niahi woods to form Serendipity.
Those that rejected magic traveled west, lead by a powerful and charismatic man named Ansgar who had the unique ability to nullify magic. They sought to find their own land, away from the creatures of magic and wild mages that filled the land. Moving west, they settled and grew, Ansgar finding others with abilities like him and they started driving out any magic users they found.
A few years later, they called upon the other nations to help drive out the taint of Necromancy from the continent. Together with his neighboring nations, Ansgar led the crusade that drove the necromancers to the islands. When he died, Ansgar was believed to have ascended to the heavens and is worshiped as a God by the Connlaothians.
After the success of the necromancy crusade, Connlaoth did push to try and get all magic users expelled, but that did not go as well.